Monday, July 16, 2007

Singing the show-tune blues

The lion prince and princessLast month we took the kids to see the touring production of The Lion King. We had bought the tickets nearly a year in advance, knowing that Opie would be barely two years old on the date of the performance. We figured we'd decide whether to take him or not once we had a better read on his behavior, and if we thought he couldn't hack it, we'd leave him home with a sitter and sell or give away his ticket.

As the date approached, we decided that even though he is two and all boy, he might be trusted to behave during the performance. He loves music and is fascinated by live performance. He loves animals. He had done very well at his first movie matinee in April. The audience at the Lion King would be full of families and kids, and the venue even allowed snacks in the seats. If he did melt down, one of us would suck it up and take him out to the lobby.

We prepped both kids extensively. We listened to the soundtrack constantly (feel free to quiz me on which track is "Hakuna Matata" and which one is "I Just Can't Wait to Be King") and watched the movie several times. We drilled them on the rules (Opie informs you: "be KYE-it an' sitinmyseat"). And we packed a few Nuks along with the snacks.

And he did it! (Am I leaving Jo out? It's just that we never had a moment's doubt about her, couch potato princess that she is.) For the first few minutes of the first act, he pointed at the exit and told me he wanted to "GO DERE" and "GO HOME," but he soon settled into my lap with his hands primly folded and watched everything without another word. During the second act, he was a little more chatty, piping up occasionally with questions and comments, but overall, he was an exemplary little audience member.

Since that day, both kids are even more LK-obsessed than ever. We still listen to the soundtrack all day long: In the car. At naptime. At bedtime. During dinner. While playing outside. (You should hear Opie's operatic rendition of "When I was a young wart-HOG!") We "read" the souvenir program book just as often. Nearly daily, both kids ask when we are going to see Lion King again.

Which brings me, at long last, to my point. The tour is coming to a city a few hours' drive from us in the fall. We thought it would be a fun treat to take the kids and spend the weekend. Last night I investigated ticketing options--until I came to this roadblock: "Patrons must be age four or over. No one under age four will be admitted."

And in an instant the whole trip was off. Look, I totally understand that they don't want screaming babies or disruptive toddlers to ruin the paying customers's experience. But I'd like to be able to decide for myself whether my kid's attendance is appropriate. I am, after all, the one who is shelling out $75 for his ticket. Or not, as the case may be is. I'm very disappointed that our whole family has to miss out because of this stupid rule. And I'm really angry at the clueless parents whose kids' behavior must have prompted it. If they'd had the good sense to control their offspring in public--or remove them from the scene if necessary--my children wouldn't have to miss out.

The tour is coming back our way (to another, closer city) early next year. Maybe we'll try again then. If that theater doesn't allow nearly-3-year-olds, I may spring for a fake ID for my show-tune lovin' tot.


mothergoosemouse said...

I understand the reasoning - because obviously there are plenty of parents who don't exercise good judgment - but it still sucks that their lack of good judgment results in a such a mandate.

Hakuna Matata is sung as accompaniment to pre-bath strip-down and booty-shaking at our house. It's somewhat disturbing, but mostly hilarious.

Summer said...

That's ridiculous. Ridiculous that they'd enforce such a rule for a FAMILY-ORIENTED show, and even more ridiculous that there are parents out there who would drop $75 on a ticket for a kid who isn't likely to sit for very long in that expensive theater seat.

FWIW, I took my boy to his first live show when he was two. It was Dora. The tickets were free, courtesy of a friend who worked at the theater. He loved it, and was very, very good, and mostly quiet except for saying "yay!" at the end of musical numbers. The biggest problem was that he wasn't heavy enough (still isn't!) to hold down one of those flip-down theater seats.

Mona said...

I'd be fuming. What a stupid rule, especially when tantrums are just as likely with an 4+ crowd.

I'd totally go for fake IDs, too.

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

Great idea about fake ID's...I know this guy who could hook you up. Not really.

SUEB0B said...

I agree with MGM. I ushered in movie theaters for 3 years and for 5 years at a performing arts center as a volunteer, and there are many, many parents who have no clue what is appropriate for their child to watch OR appropriate for their child to do.

I had to talk to a mother at the symphony when she let her 4-year-old repeatedly kick the seat in front of him during the performance and she did nothing to stop him. (Note: 4-year-olds and symphonies!! What was she thinking??)

Lady M said...

I loved that show! I wonder if there's a general age rule and they didn't stop to think that a *children's show" should have different rules.

It really does depend on the child. We took Q to a chamber music concert (sitting right next to the exit) at age 2, and he was perfectly silent and attentive, better than his mother (ahem - I had a coughing fit at one point). We left at intermission, because we didn't want to push our luck, but it was a great experience and he got to see some family friends perform.

I hope that Opie and Jo get to see the show again!

Jenster said...

Can you have the little one stand on your feet? You know, like you do with kids at amusement parks so they can ride the ride. Just a thought.

Julie Pippert said...

I also understand the reason behind it, and am sure that because of the cost and other kids plenty of parents would stick it out with a crying toddler.

Nevertheless, too bad a few bad apples spoil the bunch!

Seems like they could come up with a toddler matinée or something!

How disappointing for your family!

Hopefully the next one is more reasonable.

Karianna said...

My kids couldn't handle it. But because I KNOW they couldn't handle it, I wouldn't attempt it.

Diane said...

Yes, and I've seen many a four-year-old be noisy in public! It's all about the individual child's behavior, methinks!

Mom101 said...

Like Suebob and MGM, I understand that rule. Unfortunately there are selfish inconsiderate jerks in the world with crappy kids who ruin it for the rest of us.

And Summer, plenty of people would spend $75 (and way, way more...try the Broadway production sometime) to have their toddler scream through the performance. I've seen it. And not just at the Lion King. Try, The Full Monte. Seriously.

Jenifer said...

Well that just plain sucks. I'm quite impressed that you little man sat through the entire performance... good man!